|June 6, 1967 black athletes show public solidarity with Muhammad Ali for rejecting the U.S. military draft.|
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Quest For Fire
When I was was in the second grade my teacher Mrs. Smith asked our class what we wanted to be when we grew up. Some said football players, others said doctors and still others said a lawyer. Of all things I could be I said, "I want to be a Zoologist!" At that age, and even today, I've been an animal lover and nature enthusiast. There wasn't a nature program or animal show I didn't watch and I would memorize their facts like some of my peers would do baseball stats. I longed to travel the world, study nature and narrate documentaries like Jacques Cousteau, Carl Sagan, Donald Johanson, George Page, Marty Stouffer and Sir David Attenborough. Later on I became a big fan of the late Steve Irwin. I credit my Ole Dad with orientating me this way because he sat down and watched all of these shows with some of my siblings and I. We also invested a lot of time on the Tuscarora Reservation in our area and through this socialization I became much more aware of my relationship to the planet. Besides the Cryptozoology, the study of hidden/mythical animals like big foot, loch-ness monster and etc. that many youth find fascinating, the core aspect of any animal study is animal sexuality, mating habits and their family dynamics. Have you ever seen leopard slugs mate?
Within that study of animal sexuality, mating habits and family dynamics exist the roles of being dominant or recessive -regardless if animals roam in packs, herds or live solitary. In other words, sexual prowess, the right to mate and ability to sire/birth offspring depends upon that animal's status, genetically, physiologically and socially. Those who are most dominant and hold the rank to do so are known as Alpha Males/Females. Those who are recessive and don't hold that rank are known as Beta Males/Females. Sometimes certain animals are born Alpha or Beta Males/Females and that is their fixed destiny. In some cases that isn't true. Take an orangutan for example. All orangutan's don't have pie faces with those big meaty cheeks called a flange. Only "king orangutan's" do -which is caused by a massive testosterone growth spurt similar to that of Dr. Bruce Banner changing into the Hulk. So in this sense, an orangutan that appears to be a Beta Male can transform into a mammoth Alpha in a matter of months. On the female side, a mating queen bee is dominant in a colony based upon her ability to reproduce -and there's always virgin queens killing off their sisters and waiting in the wings to run the Bey Hive. In this regard, we as humans are not much different, or better, than animals.
This brings me to the discussion about Alpha vs. Beta human behavior, particularly among males. There are a host of websites that categorize the qualities and characteristics of males as either Alpha or Beta, dominant or recessive, masculine or feminine. The truth is ALL males possess Alpha and Beta male qualities -some more than others. ALL males have a little Alpha Tony Starks [Iron Man] and Beta Peter Parker [Spider Man] in him. I think the problem arises when we as males fail to recognize which qualities are the most appropriate to express in a certain situation. For example, known for being more aggressive, domineering, assertive, hot headed, primal and etc., an Alpha Male mentality may not be the best way to resolve some conflicts. In the same sense, the laid back, quiet, sensitive, peaceful and etc. Beta Male mindset may also not be the best approach to deal with some confrontations. Either of these approaches/dispositions may be right and exact today, yet totally wrong tomorrow; wisdom allows us to differentiate this. In a western society steeped in misogyny, male chauvinism and sexism, the John Wayne, James Bond, 50 Cent image of Alpha Males often takes precedence over the application of wisdom. Even worst, you have Beta and even Omega Males fronting, posturing, posing and aspiring to these non-contextualized western ideas. I see these males every day, or on social media, trying to convince people that they're #1 [Alpha]. This pissing contest competitiveness does nothing but perpetuate the low/vacant esteem and inferiority complexes these males are really dealing with. In the quest to be number #1, most males don't consider the fact that they already are, respectively, as the original man. This is one of the main reasons why some of my male peers find it difficult to "advocate a society of men or group of men for one common cause." This lacking is also what proceeds our inability to be equal, in everything, with each other. Some of us are so worried about thinking others are outdoing us, or trying to outdo each other, that we're not doing anything of real substance to uplift each other.
In the animal world, males typically demonstrate various forms of physiological pageantry to "show-off" their so-called dominance to each other and onlooking females. Whether it's flashing bright colors like golden-headed lion tamarins, butting heads like big horn sheep or singing sophisticated songs like a lyre bird, male animals, obviously in their primal state, thrive on competition. The same can be said for male humans -who have not evolved beyond our primal reptilian brain function. Cognitively speaking, there is no difference between a raging bull elephant during musth or a raging male talking bull at a parliament. Both are in the throws of passion and both are unreasonable. Aside from all of our pageantry and pheromones we give off to communicate our -genetic- profile, the most essential clue we share about that profile is our legacy. In other words, one of the main qualities a female looks for in a mate is security and all the showboating and Pherazone cologne in the world won't attract a female if we're insecure and we haven't secured a legacy.
Nowadays, as in our past, Ujima [collective work and responsibility] is one of the guiding principles of any group desiring freedom, justice and equality for and among its members. In order to carry this out successfully males in particular must be willing and able to cooperate. Cooperation is impossible if we're competing 'against' each other. I emphasis 'against' because I think competing 'with' each other is healthy -like we did in high school when our track team faced an opponent during a meet. If three of us were running the 100 meters, our goal was get first, second and third place for our team. There is no silver bullet when it comes to all of this yet the bullion consists of males being more honest with ourselves about where we're at, what we actually have and our commitment to brotherhood, family and community. One of the main reasons I have been and continue to be successful in my undertakings is because I'm not afraid to say I need assistance. I am also not afraid to not be the center of attention, top dog or quietly or loudly support a brother who is best qualified to represent a project, program or initiative. Some of us have a problem with that and it's this kind of pride that continues to come before our misfortune and destruction. We can act like we're money team members, take pictures with our chin up to look taller, thumb thug on social media or have sex with a different female every day of the week yet none of these things demonstrate manhood. Nor can we use any of that as practical tools to help propagate a family, communities or a nation.